In an isolated village in upstate New York, a young family finds “[d]emons in the wood and devils at the door.”
When novelist Ben Tierney inherits a large estate overlooking the village of Swannhaven, it seems like the perfect opportunity for a fresh start in the country. Life in Manhattan was becoming increasingly difficult, with his wife, Caroline, diagnosed with bipolar illness after giving birth to their infant son and their 8-year-old boy, Charlie, being brutally bullied at school. Ben moves his family into the Crofts, built in the 1700s as the original home of the Swann family, with the idea of turning the house into an inn. He and Caroline begin to forge relationships with the villagers of Swannhaven while digging into the history of the estate. On the surface, the move was a good idea. Ben gets a new idea for a novel, Caroline’s manic energy helps her make progress on renovations, and Charlie is enjoying his explorations of the surrounding woods using an outdoor survival manual called The Book of Secrets, but there's an underlying tension in the family’s interactions with each other. Ben and Caroline’s relationship is tenuous, and Charlie hasn't told his parents about the “Watcher” in the woods. It's clear that the Tierneys have lost each other. Whether they can become a family again before they face tragic consequences is the real mystery. The terror builds slowly, starting with an eviscerated deer and the foreboding atmosphere surrounding the Crofts, the wind slamming doors in the house and screaming through the trees in the forest. As winter sets in, the Tierneys find themselves haunted by echoes of Swannhaven’s tragic history of starvation, war and bitter struggles for survival. Debut author Duffy has delivered a fluid, suspenseful yet subtle thriller, with touches of humor, evocative writing, and characters that are both familiar and uniquely fascinating.
A wonderfully tense and heart-wrenching debut.